March 29, 2008
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Auburn earned its third title of the 2008 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships Friday night as the Tigers finish the second day of competition in fifth place with 213 points.
The three-day meet, taking place at the Weyerhaueser King County Aquatic Center, wraps up Saturday night. Preliminaries are set to begin at 2 p.m. CT while finals are slated to start at 9 p.m. CT.
Heading into the final day, Arizona holds on to first place with 376 points, followed by Texas in second with 285. Stanford is in third place with 231 points while California occupies fourth with 222.5. Auburn rounds out the top five sitting 9.5 points out of fourth place.
"I'm really proud of our team and the way they fought today," said head coach Richard Quick. "I'm especially proud of our 200 medley relay team. Scott Goodrich is a great senior leader starting off that relay and David Maras has made an extraordinary comeback and has done an excellent job. Alexei Puninski swam a butterfly that is just off the charts and Cesar Cielo was amazing, absolutely amazing."
With the third-through-fifth places within 20 points of each other, Quick says the team still has its work cut out for them.
"We are going to have to come back here tomorrow ready to work. We have a ladder to climb here to move up in the rankings, but I am proud of this team, they will not give up."
The Tigers opened the second night of the three-day meet right where they left off on Thursday by setting new Auburn, NCAA and U.S. Open records in the 200 medley relay.
The team of Scott Goodrich, David Maras, Alexei Puninski and Cesar Cielo successfully defended their title in the event, clocking a 1:23.24. The team broke their own record time of 1:23.37, set at last year's NCAA Championships.
Goodrich, one of the team's captains, swam the leadoff backstroke leg of the relay, helping give Auburn its third NCAA title of the meet.
"We really wanted to get that relay to start the night and get the guys fired up," said Goodrich. "That was our goal from the beginning, we knew we could break that record. We had the same guys as last year, just a little bit older, and all we had to do was hit all of our splits and our relay takeoffs."
Maras, also one of the team's seniors, was left speechless after the race. After suffering a broken bone in his elbow in January, swimming again at the NCAA Championships was not something he expected to be doing.
"I can't even explain it, how I feel right now," said Maras. "I didn't even expect to be swimming right now, so coming back and setting the record is unbelievable. These guys are my best friends, the guys I did it last year with and I'm just speechless."
One night after breaking the U.S. Open record in the 50 free, posting a time of 18.47, Cielo amazed the crowd again by clocking an 18.19 50 free anchor split on the relay.
"I always have trouble with the exchanges from Alexei and when he came in, I saw it was close between us and Arizona, so I decided to play it safe, said Cielo. "I didn't know I was going to go that fast. It is amazing to go 18.1 after going 18.4 yesterday, so it gave me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow's 100 free."
Puninski, fresh off the relay victory, stepped back up on the blocks just 15 minutes later in the 100 butterfly, setting a new Auburn record with a time of 45.51.
"I'm pretty tired right now after the 200 relay, so I'm happy with the time, but I certainly would have liked to have won the race," said Puninski. "I've worked really hard this year, so I'm happy with how I swam and I am looking forward to swimming harder the rest of the meet."
Tyler McGill followed Puninski in eighth while Cielo finished 15th overall in the race with a 47.56.
Three other Tigers have scored for Auburn so far Friday night. Freshman Andrew Mitchell finished 13th in the 400 IM with a time of 3:48.72 - a time that ranks seventh all-time at Auburn.
Michael Silva finished 15th overall in the 100 breast, clocking a 54.03, while freshman Kohlton Norys came in 14th in the 100 back with a 47.35.
In the 3-meter diving events, Auburn's Kelly Marx and Dan Mazzaferro both qualified for the finals. Marx scored a 398.05 to finish fifth while Mazzaferro was eighth with a score of 370.75.
"What a great day, a super final for both Kelly and Dan," said head diving coach Jeff Shaffer. "They really dived to their maximum potential and It was a great contest. I couldn't be more proud of their effort today, how they got up this morning and did a couple great lists to make finals."
Aside from their individual performances, Shaffer was pleased with how the two improved from last season's NCAAs.
"Kelly was 30th last year and moved up to fifth and Dan was 11th last year and came in eighth, so we are moving in the right direction," said Shaffer. "We have the platform tomorrow, which is our strength, so the best is yet to come."
In the final event of the night, the Auburn 800 freestyle relay team of Tyler McGill, Pascal Wollach, Kyle Maese and Will Dove placed 11th with a time of 6:26.22
Fans can follow Saturday's final-day action with live stats at www.ncaaswim.com/men08/. A live video Web cast will also be available by going to www.SwimmingWorldMagazine.com.
2008 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships
Champions and Auburn Results
200-Yard Medley Relay
1 - Goodrich (21.69), Maras (23.55), Puninski (19.81), Cielo (18.19) - 1:23.24
400-Yard Individual Medley
1 - Alex Vanderkaay (Michigan) - 3:41.58
13 - Andrew Mitchell - 3:48.72
1 - Albert Subirats (Arizona) - 45.07
2 - Alexei Puninski - 45.51
8 - Tyler McGill - 46.39
15 - Cesar Cielo - 47.56
1 - Dave Walters (Texas) - 1:32.56
1 - Paul Kornfeld (Stanford) - 52.03
15 - Michael Silva - 54.03
1 - Ben Hesen (Indiana) - 44.72
14 - Kohlton Norys - 47.35
1 - Reuben Ross (Miami) - 466.80
5 - Kelly Marx - 398.05
8 - Dan Mazzaferro - 370.75
800-Yard Freestyle Relay
1 - Arizona (Basson, Townsend, Greenshields, Nilo) - 6:12.85
11 - McGill (1:37.20), Wollach (1:36.05), Maese (1:36.27), Dove (1:36.70) - 6:26.22